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Petroleum Contamination in Water

Analytical + Environmental / Water and Liquid / Petroleum – Water & Liquid

Petroleum Contamination In Water

Petroleum contamination can be a significant health and environmental hazard. Gasoline, diesel, oil, and other petroleum products can seep into water sources through leaks, spills, or improper disposal. Consuming or using contaminated water can pose serious health risks, including skin irritation, respiratory issues, and certain types of cancer. Moreover, petroleum pollutants can have a detrimental impact on aquatic ecosystems, harming plants, animals, and microorganisms.

Water testing for petroleum contaminants allows for early detection and remediation, safeguarding the well-being of individuals, communities, and the environment. Pace offers a wide range of testing services for petroleum contaminants in all types of water: drinking water, groundwater, surface water, and wastewater.


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Analyzing Petroleum Contaminants In Water For Regulatory Compliance

Several petroleum-based contaminants, such as benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylenes (BTEX), are covered by the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR) due to their potential risk to human health. By regularly monitoring and analyzing water samples for the presence and concentration of these contaminants, water utilities and regulatory agencies can ensure that public drinking water supplies remain below the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established maximum contaminant levels (MCLs).

Testing groundwater and surface water for petroleum contaminants is crucial for regulatory compliance. Various regulations, such as the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), establish guidelines and enforceable standards for the permissible levels of petroleum contaminants in surface water and groundwater. State-specific programs also monitor and assess the quality of groundwater resources to protect drinking water supplies. Compliance with these regulations requires regular monitoring and testing of water sources for petroleum contaminants, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX), as well as total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH).


The EPA’s Effluent Limitations Guidelines and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program govern the discharge of pollutants, including petroleum contaminants, into surface waters. These regulations require facilities to monitor and test their wastewater for contaminants, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX), as well as total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), to ensure compliance with established effluent limitations and water quality criteria. Typically, states administer the NPDES program and may add additional requirements for wastewater monitoring through this and other state-level regulatory actions.

Contact Pace® for Compliance Testing

Petroleum Contamination Special Projects

Pace® offers petroleum contamination testing to help consultants, engineers, and industries with a wide range of environmental testing needs.

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Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) Remediation

Decommissioned manufactured gas plants pose significant technical and financial challenges to successor property owners, including municipalities and other public entities undertaking brownfields revitalization. Analysis of local groundwater and surface water helps identify the presence and concentration of petroleum contaminants and delineate the area of contamination to aid in the remediation of former MGP sites.

Pipeline Monitoring

Surface and groundwater analysis can help oil and gas pipeline operators detect potential leaks and assess pipeline integrity. With regular testing for petroleum contaminants in the ground and surface waters around a pipeline, operators can proactively address potential issues and implement appropriate maintenance or repair measures to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline system.

Underground Storage Tank (UST) Monitoring

Regular testing of local groundwater and surface water for petroleum contaminants can help property owners monitor the integrity of their underground storage tanks (UST). By analyzing the water surrounding USTs, operators can identify the presence of contaminants, such as petroleum hydrocarbons, which may indicate a leak or breach in the tank system. Regular water analysis can also help evaluate the effectiveness of leak detection systems and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

Environmental Site Assessments

Environmental site assessments are frequently performed before a property is purchased, sold, or approved for a specific use, particularly when the site was part of the oil and gas supply chain: gas stations, transportation and storage facilities, refineries, etc. The data from the analysis of local groundwater and surface water helps property owners, buyers, and regulators evaluate the environmental risks associated with a property, make informed decisions about the property's value and suitability, and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

Emergency Response

In the event of incidents such as pipeline ruptures, tanker truck accidents, train derailments, or storage tank leaks, analyzing groundwater and surface water for petroleum contaminants can provide valuable insights into the concentration and distribution of contaminants in the impacted area. By rapidly assessing local water contamination levels, emergency response teams can develop targeted and effective cleanup strategies, prioritize resources and efforts, and minimize the environmental and public health risks associated with petroleum contaminants. Water analysis is also used to monitor the progress and effectiveness of remediation efforts, reducing long-term environmental impacts and potential liability issues.

Petroleum Hydrocarbon Forensics

Petroleum hydrocarbon forensics uses advanced analytical techniques and methods to identify the source, age, and distribution of petroleum contaminants in the environment. Petroleum hydrocarbon forensics can be useful in determining the source of contamination, as petroleum products are chemically complex and can be highly variable in composition.

Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH)

TPH is used to quantify the concentration of petroleum-based hydrocarbon contaminants present in an environmental sample. In combination with other analytical techniques, TPH can contribute to the overall understanding of the contamination and support forensic investigations.

Learn more about TPH Testing

Petroleum Hydrocarbon Identification (PHI)

PHI is used to characterize petroleum-based hydrocarbon contaminants in environmental samples by providing detailed information on the composition, source, and age of the contaminants. Crucial for forensic analysis of environmental contamination, this information can help identify responsible parties, determine the extent of the contamination, and guide remediation efforts.

Saturated Hydrocarbon Analysis (SHC)

SHC is a specialized technique used to identify and quantify saturated hydrocarbon compounds, such as alkanes and cycloalkanes, in environmental samples. By providing detailed information on the composition and origin of these contaminants, SHC also aids in identifying responsible parties, assessing the extent of contamination, and guiding effective remediation strategies.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCS)

A common component of petroleum-based contamination, VOCs pose significant risks to human health and the environment. Due to their volatile nature, VOCs can migrate through soil and groundwater, leading to the contamination of air, drinking water, and ecosystems. Characterization of VOCs can help identify their source.

Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHS) And Alkylated PAHs

PAHs and alkylated PAHs are a class of organic compounds formed primarily through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and other organic materials. PAHs and alkylated PAHs are known for their persistence and potential toxicity. Testing groundwater and surface water samples for PAHs and alkylated PAHs is essential for environmental compliance and can help identify the source of the contaminants.

Geochemical Biomarker Analysis

Geochemical Biomarker Analysis is used to identify and characterize specific organic compounds, or biomarkers, that provide valuable information about the source, age, and depositional environment of the organic material, including petroleum contaminants, in an environmental sample.

Paraffin, Isoparaffin, Aromatic, Naphthenes, And Olefin (PIANO)

PIANO is a methodology that uses gas chromatography coupled with mass spectroscopy to identify and characterize hundreds of hydrocarbons in gasoline and in water samples contaminated with petroleum compounds. This analytical technique plays a crucial role in assessing the presence, location, and concentration of petroleum-based contaminants in the environment.

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Why Select Pace®

The largest American-owned environmental lab in North America, Pace® has a well-established reputation for delivering fast, reliable analytical services to a wide range of customers, including government agencies, industries, and environmental consultants. Pace® is NELAC and DOD certified, as well as certified in every state that offers a lab accreditation program. By leveraging our expertise, advanced analytical techniques, and cutting-edge instrumentation, we ensure that the data generated is accurate, reliable, and defensible. Our comprehensive service offerings, including project planning, sampling, and data interpretation, make Pace® the go-to resource for clients seeking to comply with environmental regulations or assess and mitigate the impacts of petroleum contaminants on the environment and human health.

Additional Resources